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- Team Spotlight: Dr. Aaron Jennings
What motivates you to wake up and go to work? There are 8 million identified students in the K-12 system who are chronically absent – I see myself advocating for them through my work at AllHere! I am fortunate to be a part of a team that has this laser-like focus of helping these students– not for a margin, but missional. That is my driver and the reason I come to work every day! What do you do at AllHere? At AllHere, I feel like I’m a Swiss Army knife, which I love, because I’m working cross-functionally within the company. More specifically, I am over the Education + Impact arm of AllHere. I lead our attendance and chronic absenteeism strategies, work closely with our school district partners on customer success, establish working relationships with academics and practitioners across the education field on a wide range of issues impacting attendance and chronic absenteeism, among other things. What has been your favorite project so far? Great question, my favorite projects so far have been ones where I’ve been given the opportunity to work with colleagues across the company. Working with our Customer Success lead on a root cause analysis report for a school district, workshopping a presentation with product development or traveling with our sales executives to attend education conferences. I’ve been given wonderful opportunities to both learn and lead! What’s something most people don’t know about you? There are two things that people who don’t “know me” would be surprised to learn that 1) part of my childhood I grew up in Southeast Washington DC, making me a product of DC Public Schools and 2) my nephew and I grew up as brothers, we are 1 year, 1 month and 1 day apart in birth! If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? I would pick Darren Walker who is the president of the Ford Foundation. He started from very humble beginnings to lead the Ford Foundation’s $13 billion endowment and $600 million in annual grant making. Mr. Walker has literally changed the trajectory of philanthropy, in a good way, to address real issues impacting the lives of people all over the world.
- February Provocations
A roundup of inspirational stories related to chronic absenteeism and attendance intervention management from around the web. Breakfast During the School Day could Reduce Chronic Absences, Report Shows A new report has found that offering breakfast to students during the regular school day can significantly reduce chronic absenteeism. Read the full article. Letting Children Play Hooky When They’re Little Can Have Long-Term Consequences When it comes to school attendance, how many missed days are too many? UVA Today asked Robert C. Pianta, the dean of the Curry School of Education and Human Development. Read the full article. How is this Poor, Rural District Keeping Kids in School? School officials in Parlier have teamed with doctors to open a clinic and keep kids healthy. Now chronic absenteeism is down. Read the full article. What’s on your reading list? Let us know what you think @allhereK12!
- January Provocations
A roundup of inspirational stories related to chronic absenteeism and attendance intervention management from around the web. Attendance report pushes to keep schools accountable for chronic absenteeism Despite an effort to remove chronic absenteeism from the state’s accountability measures, Illinois State Board of Education’s Attendance Commission report provides warrant to continue tracking; there were 360,000 students in Illinois who were chronically absent during the 2018-2019 school year. Read the full article. Some toddlers are chronically absent from preschool. A text message can help Text messages can make a huge impact on reducing the rates of chronic absenteeism when used as a communication and early warning mechanism to keep parents and guardians informed on their child’s attendance through personalized text messages three to four times a week. Read the full article. Princeton Schools Tackles Chronic Absenteeism Issue In an example of collaborative action, Princeton Schools and the Princeton Family YMCA have teamed up to tackle the issue of chronic absenteeism in their community through a grant from the Princeton Area Community Foundation. Read the full article. What’s on your reading list? Let us know what you think @allhereK12!
- Team Spotlight: Chris Whiteley
For our next AllHere team spotlight, we spoke with Chris Whiteley, Director of Engineering. Every few weeks, we nominate a Rockstar Right Now; someone who goes above and beyond for our team and customers. Find out what it means to be a Rockstar Right Now by reading his’ interview below. What motivates you to wake up and go to work? The end result of AllHere is to help young people get out of a rut. This goal, helps feeds my need to help make a difference in my community. What do you do at AllHere? As Director of Engineering my job is to help align all the ones and zeros which make up our code. What has been your favorite project so far? Our messaging platform has been very interesting, from the modern infrastructure and services, to the regulator needs. What’s something most people don’t know about you? I love to cook sous-vide, and then finish up on the grill. If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? William Henry Herndon. He was the law pattern and biographer of President Abraham Lincoln as well as a family member. Next, meet fellow Rockstar Right Now, LaJoi Royston
A roundup of inspirational stories related to chronic absenteeism and attendance intervention management from around the web. Providence’s social media campaign hopes to combat student absenteeism by encouraging students to attend classes for most of the 180-day school year. Read the full article. Clark County officials plan to spend $12 million to combat chronic absenteeism and truancy in schools, hoping that increasing classroom attendance will reduce juvenile delinquency. Read the full article. Education forum in Dearborn brings administrators, teachers, students, parents, others together to discuss issues affecting struggling kids. Read the full article. What’s on your reading list?
- Team Spotlight: LaJoi Royston
For our first-ever AllHere team spotlight, we spoke with LaJoi Royston, Customer Support and Community Engagement Manager. Every two weeks, we plan to nominate a Rockstar Right Now; someone who goes above and beyond for our team and customers. Find out what it means to be a Rockstar Right Now by reading LaJoi’s interview below. What motivates you to wake up and go to work? The students. As a former teacher, I think of all the kids I’ve taught over the years. While I’m no longer in the front lines of education, knowing that the work I’m doing is still making an impact on so many young people is the best motivator of all. What do you do at AllHere? I lead the customer support initiatives through our work with Zendesk. If you have an issue with our platform or need help in general, I’m your go-to person. I’m also building out the AllHere Community amongst our district partners and national stakeholders by creating a space for people truly invested in this work to collaborate, be seen and be heard. What has been your favorite project so far? Definitely building our support site. As we continue to grow it has been essential that we have processes and policies that ensure we’re available to help our customers when they need us. What’s something most people don’t know about you? I used to be an avid runner. I’ve done 10 half-marathons. I officially retired from running after completing the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2016. If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? Michelle Obama, that’s a no-brainer.
- How a Collective of Boston Public Schools Sparks Attendance
For our partner, the Success Mentors Collaborative, a cohort of three districts in Massachusetts, the answer is hard work, radical collaboration, deep reflection, cutting edge interventions, detailed planning, and impassioned implementation. Here’s the story of how those things came together this year. We partnered with the Success Mentors Collaborative in Boston, Massachusetts to bring together three communities on a journey to reimagine how their attendance improvement process could work. This was completed in two phases, with the first phase taking place before the start of the school year. We worked closely with the leadership teams from Holyoke Public Schools, Lawrence Public Schools, and Springfield Public Schools in addition to the leadership team of the Family Services of Merrimack Valley, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, and Springfield School Volunteers. This small group conducted interviews with school stakeholders and students, explored trends in interventions and demands for attendance improvement, and then crafted and honed the Success Mentors Collaborative to implement network-wide. The group had 4 aims: to create proactive interventions, to create joyful and positive interventions, to be able to navigate barriers to attendance and finally, to be able to track and recognize results. The second phase of this work brought together 3 teams from each of the schools for their first convening. This cohort gathered to engage with research on the science of Success Mentors, to make meaning of empathy and relationship building work with families and students who would be mentored as part of the program, to seek inspiration from schools around the country who had implemented this model and to build out their norms and expectations for data tracking to really drive towards bold new aims and to actually implement their programming. The teams built skills around data tracking and data literacy that prepared them to roll out this intervention in their community. Many teams were drawn to the aim of building strong relationships and they drew inspiration from promising Success Mentors models around the country. Taking that momentum, they piloted the idea of having educators (teachers, staff members, caring adults) connect with students three times across an average week to share and reflect about their school experience and to meaningfully connect across lines of difference and specifically around barriers to attendance. This took various forms across the schools from in-person 5-minute check-ins to longer 30-minute meetings and in some cases student and family circles where they were convening larger groups to connect and learn from each other. Many schools also choose to have their entire staff engage in either deep empathy work or Professional Development around chronic absenteeism so they could then understand the why around students’ absences and so they could know what they could do to help reduce absenteeism and support the intervention. The coordinators and school leadership teams then came together for convening this spring to share the results of their second-year pilot and receive feedback from schools and educators on their plans to move the work forward. They also got to share lessons from the fields and lessons that they learned in leading innovation in attendance improvement. They each closed the year out with a celebratory event, a deep dive into what each program was aiming to do and a celebration showcase of the hard work of all the school-based teams. We’re immensely proud of all the hard work of all the school based teams and grateful to have worked alongside the Success Mentor Collaborative team to make this experience a success. As we step back and think about what this experience can say to others driving towards similar work, we’re really mindful of the implications of doing this work in community with others, the importance of tracking data to ensure efficacy of interventions, the power of relationships in attendance improvement and doing this work in a scalable measurable way for both students and adults. So far these districts have reduced absences by an average of 25%. In individual districts, certain grade levels saw a reduction in the total number of chronically absent students by as much as 54%! The work being done by this group is truly commendable and we salute their efforts to ensure all their students are in school every day. We thank these hard-working educators for allowing AllHere to be their partners in this work and we’re excited to follow along as the Success Mentors Collaborative work continues to unfold.